Judge denies request for extending voting in Arizona

Arizona 2022 midterm election

(NewsNation) — Tabulator issues affected 60 voting locations in Maricopa County, Arizona, leading Republicans to seek to extend voting hours.

The Republican National Committee, along with the campaigns of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, filed an emergency motion to extend voting hours in Maricopa County. Arizona law allows anyone still in line when the polls close to vote.

“We have dozens of attorneys and thousands of volunteers on the ground working to solve this issue and ensure that Arizona voters have the chance to make their voices heard,” the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said in a statement.

But Maricopa County Superior Court judge Timothy Ryan ruled against the request. “The court does not have any evidence that there is a voter who was precluded the right to vote from what was presented,” he said. Meanwhile, NewsNation’s Robert Sherman reported that the county expects to have 99 percent of its ballots counted by Friday.

Equipment malfunctions such as these are typical in every election, and officials have plans in place to ensure voting continues and all eligible ballots are counted.

Officials say these problems didn’t stop people from being able to vote.

In Maricopa County, 223 voting centers were open Tuesday.

Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said Tuesday morning that about 20% of the county’s voting centers were having issues with tabulators. Later in the day, Maricopa County said it identified the solution for these issues.

“It appears some of the printers were not producing dark enough timing marks on the ballots,” the county said in an email.

County technicians have changed the printer settings — which has worked at 17 locations — and are now deployed throughout Maricopa to fix the situation at remaining locations.

There won’t be any discrepancies because of the downed tabulators, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said earlier in the day.

“I am very sorry for any voter who has been frustrated or inconvenienced today in Maricopa County,” he said. “Every legal vote will be tabulated.”

Richer said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that if voters are at a polling place still experiencing a tabulator issue, they can go to a different voting center or drop a ballot in a secure slot on the tabulator. The secure ballot box is retrieved by bipartisan workers at the end of the evening and brought to the county’s central tabulators.

“This is the same methodology used for early voting, and it is the same methodology used on Election Day by most counties,” Richer said. “As has always been the case, every valid vote will be counted.”

This comes after election officials spent the day working to prevent a repeat of the chaos from the 2020 presidential election in this year’s midterms. After losing the national election in 2020, former President Donald Trump and his allies have sowed distrust about voting, citing false claims of widespread fraud.

Their efforts eroded public confidence in elections and led to death threats against elected officials, including in Arizona.

Fueled by claims about the election, a group called “Clean Elections USA” stationed members near ballot drop boxes in the state, toting guns and wearing body armor and masks. Last week, federal Judge Michael T. Liburdi ordered them to stay at least 250 feet away from the drop box locations, according to the Associated Press.

The Justice Department has deployed monitors across two dozen states, including five counties in Arizona, to keep their eyes out for potential civil rights violations, threats to election workers and voter intimidation.

In addition, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said the day before the election that there would be deputies in plainclothes watching drop boxes and voting centers, and that people who incite violence could face charges.

“As committed as we are to keeping the community safe, we’re committed to protecting the free vote in a republic,” Penzone said.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly said questioning an election that hasn’t happened yet is “dangerous to our democracy.”

“All of us should remember what that resulted in,” he said. “So yeah, I’m concerned.”

Republican challenger Blake Masters said with more “eyes and ears and boots on the ground,” he expects a “free and fair election.”

“Certainly, that’s our right as Americans,” Masters said.

Because of a new law passed in Arizona, the state may see an unusually high number of recounts, Axios Phoenix reported.

Before the legislation, recounts were required if the difference between the top two candidates was 0.1% of the total votes cast. Now, it’s 0.5%, so election officials are expecting voting results to take quite a few days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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